Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What Was it Wednesday

You’re looking at September 1, 2008.  I’m not sure why this was in my cooking folder, other than that looks like a sprig of lavender  in the bowl.  I vaguely remember checking a book out of the library having to do with natural skin care, which suggested steaming your face and adding aromatic herbs to the water.  I think I planned on getting on some spa like regiment, with steams and scrubs and all sorts of good things.  My guess is that the this was the first and last lavender facial steaming that occurred.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Garden Tuesday – Lenten Rose

Not much blooming in my garden right now, since I don’t grow daffodils.  

So, you’re just going to have to look at more pictures of my Lenten rose.

Here they are in the wild of my yard, next to Mr. Bunny.  It sure would have been nice if I had removed those old dead stalks from the flowers in the front, wouldn’t it?

Artsy.  Because now that I have a photo blog, I feel the pressure to be artsy every now and then.  With varying degrees of success.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Farfalle with Bitter Greens and Sausage

Farfalle with bitter greens and sausage

Two events occurred on Wednesday within hours of each other.  One…I discovered a fabulous pasta recipe.  A recipe which  probably owed a lot of it’s fabulousness to the 1/3 cup of heavy whipping cream.  Second event – I loaded an app on my Ipod Touch to track calories and keep a log of my food.

That is soooo bad timing.  Right?  Really.  What was I thinking? 

But let me say, I don’t care.  This pasta was wonderful.  Super wonderful.  I never knew that a sauce made only of cream and the juices left in the pan from sausage and greens could be so good.  I’m going to keep this technique in the back of my mind.  Though, with a nod to the new calorie app, I may try some half and half. 

Subs – I didn’t have any mustard greens so I used spinach.  Oh, and where did this Top Recipe (yes it get’s my highest rated category) come from…The Bon Appetit Cookbook: Fast Easy Fresh, but you probably already knew that, didn’t you!! 

Farfalle with Bitter Greens and Sausage

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 hot Italian sausages, casings removed (I used 2 because that’s all I had)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large bunch mustard greens, stemmed and cut crosswise into two inch pieces (about 4 cups)  (I used spinach)
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 8 ounces farfalle
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano, plus extra for serving

Heat oil in heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and saute until soft, about 8 minutes.  Add sausages and garlic, saute until the sausages are no longer pink, breaking them up with a wooden spoon.  Add greens and stir until just wilted, about 3 minutes.  Add cream and boil until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling, salted water per package directions.  Drain and add pasta to sauce, still in the Romano cheese.  Season with salt and pepper and serve with additional cheese.

Serves 2


This will be my entry for this week’s Presto Pasta Nights hosted by Ruth, herself at Once Upon a Feast.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Weekend Wine Reviews #18

Oak Grove Pinot Grigio

Oak Grove Pinot Grigio, California, 2008.  $8.99.  They say:  It’s flavors are light and lively on the palate with lemony citrus notes, and has a refreshing, very clean finish.  We say:  Very light, citrusy, light body.  Very pleasant!  Buy again:  Yes!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Weekend Cat Blogging #251


Smudge, going all artsy in black and white is my entry for this week’s very, very special Weekend Cat Blogging!


What’s so special about it?  Me.  That’s right, I am hosting this weekend!  Instead of doing the usual - post your links in the comments - I'm trying Mr. Linky. What do you think?? Do you like that idea or do you prefer the other way?  

Friday, March 26, 2010

Foodie Friday – Dorie’s Chocolate Cherry Biscotti

The best biscotti ever!

A baker I am not.  Though I do consider myself a self-proclaimed expert on biscotti.  Since it is the only thing I can successfully bake, I bake it a lot.  I’ve had good doughs, bad doughs, too crunchy, too soft, flavorful and not flavorful.  So, when I say that a biscotti is the best that I have ever eaten and baked, you can take my word for it.

Back when Dorie Greenspan’s:

Baking: From My Home to Yours

came out and everyone started blogging about it.  I knew that I had to have it.  Even though I don’t bake.  Didn’t matter.  I’m big on wanting things just because I want them.  And then I finally got it for Christmas.  Let me just say that’s a big, beautiful book, kind of wasted on me, but whatever.  So, the other day, when I was getting ready to make a new batch of biscotti, I decided to pull out the not-used-enough book.


Thank goodness I did.  This was wonderful, amazing, fantastic.   It was a little more work than my usual biscotti recipes (uses a mixer), but well worth it.  The dough was fantastic, sort of had the consistency of fudge, it patted into logs beautifully.  The logs puffed up, and cracked like a good banana bread, and the consistency of the biscotti is perfect..light with just the right amount of crunch.  Seriously I can’t say enough good things about it! 

Chocolate Biscotti (with Cherries)

  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 c. chopped almonds, blanched or unblanched
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, or 3/4 c. store-bought mini chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup chopped dried cherries (optional)
  • Sugar for dusting

    Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.Sift together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

    Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until pale, about 2 minutes; the mixture may be crumbly. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes; don’t worry if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until a dough forms. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix in the chopped nuts and chocolate and cherries (if using), then turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead in any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

    Divide the dough in half. Working with one half at a time, roll the dough into 12 inch long logs. Flatten both logs with the palm of your hand so that they are 1/2 to 1 inch high, about 2 inches across and sort of rectangular, then carefully lift the logs onto the baking sheet. Sprinkle each log with a little sugar.

    Bake the logs for about 25 minutes, or until they are just slightly firm. The logs will spread and crack – and that’s just fine. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, put it on a cooling rack and cool the logs for about 20 minutes. (Leave the oven on.)

    Working with one log at a time, using a long serrated knife, cut each log into slices between 1/2 and 3/4 inch thick. Stand the slices up on the baking sheet – you’ll have an army of biscotti – and bake the cookies again, this time for just 10 minutes.

    This will be my entry for this week’s Foodie Friday

  • Thursday, March 25, 2010

    The Wife’s Tale by Lori Lansens

    This is the second book by Lori Lansens that I have read, and like the other The Girls, I was not disappointed in The Wife’s Tale

    This is the story of Mary Gooch, a morbidly obese Canadian woman whose husband leaves her on the eve of their 25th wedding anniversary.  When she reads his note, she learns that he had won the lottery, left her some money, and went off to think things through.

    Mary doesn’t accept this, she goes off to California, to where his mother lives in the hopes of finding him.  My only qualm with the book is all of the things that happen to her in California and how she handles them.  Some of the things just seemed a little too pat, a little too planned out, and even a little too over the top.  But then I thought about it, and really this book reads like a fairy tale.  Only instead of the princess finding her prince at the end of her long journey, she finds herself.

    Because that’s what this novel is, it is the story of Mary Gooch finding herself.  I found strength and encouragement reading this book, it made me want to be strong like Mary.  I am not obese (or obeast, which is what she thought it was called when she young) and I don’t have the kind of relationship with food that she has.  I imagine though, that if I was (or did), I would find even more in this book that spoke to me. 


    This is the perfect book for Food For Thought, because this whole book is about food and how we relate to it.  Though once again, in typical me-fashion, I have stretched the thin thread between the book and my food.  My food is sushi.  What???  Yeah, I know.  But when I think of sushi, I think of the ubiquitous California roll…and Mary went to California…see.  Pretty genius.  Sort of. 


    And I didn’t make this sushi, it was some I picked up at Publix!  Grocery store sushi!  But it was surprisingly good as was this book!

    One last thing…has anyone noticed that I wrote an entire book review without copying a paragraph from Amazon? 

    Wednesday, March 24, 2010

    What Was it Wednesday?


    You’re looking at August 19, 2008.  And for the record, I know what it was.  Figs, obviously.  Gorgeous, luscious fresh figs.  Figs given to me by my very, very favorite Physical Science teacher, Mrs. G.  who used to be Miss P.  This sparked a huge debate with hubs and me.  I desperately want a fig tree.  We have no place for one, except the front yard.  He says we can’t have a fruit tree in the front yard!  I think he’s crazy.  What do you think??  And could I please have some men chime in on this, cause if it’s only the ladies he’ll think your just siding with me in the spirit of womanhood.

    Tuesday, March 23, 2010

    Garden Tuesday – It’s beginning to look a little green!

    Oak Leaf Hydrangea Oakleaf Hydrangea

    Moss I never stopped to think that even moss grows!

    Sedum Sedum.  I snatched a handful of this an estate sale many years ago.  They probably laughed at me furtively sticking it in my purse.  Because that one handful could now  easily cover my whole yard if I let it!

    Monday, March 22, 2010

    Bertolli – Pizza Puttanesca Arrabbiata

    Smack yourself on the forehead (ala…I could have had a V-8) and say, “Duh!”  Why?  Because we all know how good pasta puttanesca is, right?  Well, why haven’t we thought of how good pizza puttanesca would be???  Why, indeed? 

    This was so good that I actually had it twice this week!!!  I know..I know.  I never make anything twice, but actually I had a menu emergency.  What constitutes a menu emergency?  My husband telling me on Tuesday that on Friday he is getting his cholesterol checked and he hopes I have something “light” planned for Thursday evening.  So, I check.  Hmmm…here is what I had written down…bacon, egg and cheese burrito with fried potatoes.  Yep!  I’d say that constitutes a menu emergency!  Since I still had some of the Bertolli Arrabbiata Sauce leftover, I just went on ahead an made this pizza again.  And it was just as good the second time I made it!

    This wonderful pizza comes from the Bertolli Arrabbiata Sauce that I received as part of Foodbuzz’s Tastemaker Program.  The recipe came on the cute box that they shipped the sauces in.  Again, a great recipe to keep in the back of your mind, because with the 5 Minute Pizza Dough in your fridge and a jar of this sauce in your pantry, you are only limited by your imagination!

    Pizza Puttanesca Arrabbiata

    • 1 cup Bertolli Arrabbiata Sauce
    • 1 12 –inch or 2 8-inch prepared pizza crusts (or your favorite dough rolled out)
    • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (or more because’s cheese!)
    • 1/4 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olive
    • 1 T. small capers, rinsed, drained and finely chopped
    • 2 anchovies, drained and chopped
    • 1 T. finely chopped fresh basil (I omitted because I didn’t have any)

    Preheat the oven to 500 (they say 450, but I always do 500).  Evenly spread the sauce on the pizza crust, then top with the remaining ingredients, except basil.  Bake 8 – 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with basil.  Eat and enjoy.

    Sunday, March 21, 2010

    Weekend Wine Reviews # 17

    Oak Grove Viognier

    Oak Grove Viognier, 2008, California.  $7.99 They say:  more perfumed and floral character than a chardonnay.  We say:  sweet, melony, creamy.  Lovely floral finish.  Buy again:  Yes!

    Saturday, March 20, 2010

    Weekend Cat Blogging #250

    I realize that about 90% of Smudge’s photos on Weekend Cat Blogging are of him sitting on the dining room table next to some flowers.  What can I say?  The boy knows how to pose.  Here is he outside working the garden path! 

    This will be my entry for this week’s Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by Sammy & Miles Meezer and Billy Sweetfeets Gingersnap .  And guess what!!! Next week it’s me, so get your kitty cats ready!

    Friday, March 19, 2010

    Foodie Friday – Hunan Lamb Chops

    Hunan Lamb Chops

    What’s that movie where they say, “Toga!” “Toga!” “Toga!”?  Is that Animal House?  Anyway, sometimes when I say Friday, I say it like above as in “Friday! Friday Friday!” I also do that sometimes for yoga, “Yoga!” “Yoga!” “Yoga!”, which totally goes against the whole relaxing yoga feel.  Sorry…off on major tangent there.

    Back to Friday.  Back to Foodie Friday to be exact.  And back to my standard mantra, quick and easy.  I found a recipe for Hunan Lamb Chops while browsing through:

    The Bon Appetit Cookbook: Fast Easy Fresh

    And before you say anything…like “Gosh Pam, you reference this cookbook at least once a week!”  Yes, I do.  It has over 1,100 quick and easy recipes, and I spend countless hours sitting on my couch paging through it while Jack on 24 gets beat up and tortured and comes out without a scratch on him. 

    Hunan Lamb Chops

    Again, this recipe did not disappoint.  Insanely easy.  Really good.  I pan fried mine instead of grilling them, and I wish that I would have drizzled a little of the marinade over them as they cooked to not let any of it go to waste.

    Hunan Lamb Chops (can also be found here)

    • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
    • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
    • 2 tablespoons dry Sherry
    • 2 teaspoons chili oil
    • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
    • 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions, divided
    • 8 1/2-inch-thick shoulder lamb chops (about 2 pounds total)

    Prepare barbecue (high heat). Whisk hoisin sauce, soy sauce, Sherry, chili oil, rice vinegar, and finely chopped garlic to blend in shallow dish; mix in 1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions. Add lamb and turn to coat. Let marinate 20 minutes.

    Brush grill rack with oil. Grill lamb to desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Place 2 lamb chops on each plate. Sprinkle lamb with remaining green onions and serve.

    (I sautéed them in a frying pan over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes per side).

    This will be my entry for Foodie Friday!  Be sure and click on the picture and follow the link, there are always lots of wonderful entries.  Seriously, I try to get there first thing Friday morning, and I’m usually number 70 or something like that!

    Thursday, March 18, 2010

    A & W Copycat Chili Dog Recipe

    A & W Chili dog

    Sometimes after eating healthy with lots of veggies and legumes and boneless chicken breasts, I crave something not.  Not filled with veggies.  Not light.  Not lowfat.  Some good old-fashioned fun eating.  What’s more fun that a chili dog?  Nothing except maybe an A & W Chili Dog! 

    A & W Chili Dog

    I’m going to begin by saying these were good.  But then I have to confess that I can’t really say that.  Why?  Because it wasn’t until I was putting my spice jars up that I realized that I used cinnamon instead of cumin!!!  I know.  They don’t look alike or smell alike, their only similarity being their proximity on my spice shelf.  So, these were kind of a cinnamony chili dog.  But even with my blunder, they were good, so imagine if you made them the way they are supposed to be made.

    Oh and as a nod to my healthy eating, I served them on whole wheat buns with baked sweet potato fries.  Not much of a wild and crazy rebel, am I?

    A & W Copycat Chili Dogs

    • Ground chuck - 1lb
      Tomato paste - 1 can (6oz)
      Sugar - 1 tbsp
      Yellow mustard - 1 tbsp
      Dried, minced onion - 1 tbsp
      Chili powder - 2 tsp
      Worcestershire sauce - 1 tsp
      Salt - 1 tsp
      Celery seed - 1/2 tsp
      Ground cumin - 1/2 tsp
      Black pepper - 1/4 tsp
      Water - 1 cup
    • Hot dogs and buns of your choice
    • Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Cook the ground chuck in a pan and break into small pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Add in the remaining ingredients.
  • Simmer for about 30 minutes until thickens.
  • Boil some water in a pot, and add in however many frankfurters you want. Boil for about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Place the frankfurter in a hot dog bun and spread on 3 tablespoons of the sauce you just made. Spread the cheddar cheese on top, and you're done!

  • Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    Garden Tuesday – Spring? Yes, No, Maybe

    Spring?  Let’s ask this little birdie!


    Mr. Robin says Yes!!! 


    Mr. Snowman and snowbaby are laughing at Mr. Robin. 

    Monday, March 15, 2010

    Bertolli – Oven Baked Four Cheese Rigatoni Rosa

    What a week this has been, first I get sent a book to review and now as part of the Tastemaker program at Foodbuzz, I get some pasta sauces to try.  Books and pasta…life is good. 

    Bertolli Four Cheese Rosa

    Now, some of you might be thinking….but, Pam, you are all about cooking from scratch and avoiding processed foods.  Yes.  I do.  One exception I do make is pasta sauce.  I always have a jar or two in my pantry, because sometimes I just don’t have time or the inclination to make my own. 

    When I opened up the gorgeous box from Bertolli, inside I found a jar of their Four Cheese Rosa Sauce and their Arrabbiata Sauce.  Easy choice.  Put cheese in the name and I am all over it.  They even supplied a few recipes to chose from to use the sauces…Pink Shrimp with Bacon and Onions, Fontina and Bacon-Stuffed Chicken Breasts, and Oven-Baked Four Cheese Rigatoni Rosa, just to name a few.   I, of course, chose the one with cheese in the name.

    Okay, where do I begin…this was fantastic.  Seriously restaurant quality good.  And unbelievably easy.  And I learned a new technique that I am going to apply to other baked pasta dishes…. the idea of tossing the pasta with the sauce and then just mixing in your ricotta mixture.  I always either layer the ricotta mixture (like a lasagna) or stuff it in a shell, I didn’t realize you could just mix it all up and end up with something so fabulous.  So, even though this is made with a jarred sauce and it’s sort of cheating, it gets the coveted Top Recipe label!

    Oven-Baked Four Cheese Rigatoni Rosa

    • 1 cup ricotta cheese
    • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
    • 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves (I used some of my pureed from the freezer)
    • 1 egg, slightly beaten
    • 1/2 t. ground black pepper
    • 8 ounces rigatoni (or other large tube pasta) cooked and drained
    • 1 jar Bertolli Four Cheese Rosa Sauce
    • 2 T. Italian Seasoned dry bread crumbs (I just used fresh)
    • 2 T. grated Parmesan Cheese

    Preheat the oven to 350.  Combine ricotta cheese, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, basil, egg and black pepper; set aside.  Toss hot rigatoni with Sauce in large bowl.  Stir in the ricotta mixture.  Turn into 11 x 7 inch baking dish, the sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, bread crumbs, and Parmesan cheese.  Bake covered 25 minutes.  Remove cover and bake and additional 5 minutes or until bread crumbs are golden brown and cheese is melted.  Serves 4.

    This will be my entry for this week’s Presto Pasta Nights hosted by Aqua from Served with Love .

    Sunday, March 14, 2010

    Weekend Wine Reviews #16

    Domaine Pral, Beaujolais Nouvea Red, 2009.  $12.99.  They say:  a fun young wine.  We say:  very light, fruity, with a minerally finish.  Very nice and pleasant.  Buy again:  probably, but we need to try some more Beaujolais’ because we’re not sure what they are supposed to be like!

    McManis Chardonnay, California, 2007.  $8.10  We say very light, a little buttery, a little floral.  Very pleasant.  We can always count on McManis.  Buy again:  yes! 

    Martin Codax, Tempranillo, Ergo, 2006, Rioja, Spain.  $11.00.  They say:  distinct fruit forward flavors of fresh berry and plums with hints of spice.  We say:  yes, yes, yes.  Excellent!  Buy again:  Yes!

    Saturday, March 13, 2010

    Weekend Cat Blogging #249

    It’s senior cat day here at Sidewalk Shoes.  This is Scrappycat working on her 19th year!

    Here she is staring up at the stairs.  The stairs that she doesn’t really go up or down much anymore.

    This is between the railings of the stairs.  The stairs that she is still staring at with disdain.  She hates those stairs. Probably how I’m going to feel soon. 

    Scrappy giving the stairs the evil eye will be my entry for this week’s Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by Breadchick and LB at The Sour Dough.

    Friday, March 12, 2010

    Foodie Friday – Asian Seared Tuna Pepper Steaks

    TGIF.  Seriously.  I have never been so ready for a Friday in my life.  It’s sad isn’t it, that we spend most of our lives counting down the days to another day.  I am so guilty of this.  I am big time counter downer.  3 days till that, 4 days till this, 20 days till spring break.  I really need to learn to just stop and live in the moment.  I’ll put that on my list, next to cleaning the garage (which I plan to do this summer, and note…I am not counting down the days till that!).

    What better dish for a Friday during Lent then fish.  And what better fish, than tuna from the amazingly wonderful Moon and Olivia!  And even more better, super easy and tasty.  Unlike some 30 minute meals, this one really can be on your table in under 30.  It’s not earth shattering by any means, but still quite tasty.   And yes, I know it would have been much more attractive if I had thinly sliced the tuna showing off it’s cooked-to-perfection goodness, but I didn’t realize that till I was eating it.  And by then.  I was eating it.

    I found this easy peasy gem from my easy peasy gem cookbook:

    The Bon Appetit Cookbook: Fast Easy Fresh

    Asian Seared Tuna Pepper Steaks

    • 4 6- to 7-ounce ahi tuna steaks (each about 1 inch thick)
    • 1 tablespoon coarsely cracked black pepper
    • 2 teaspoons oriental sesame oil
    • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
    • 1/4 cup dry Sherry
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives or green onion tops

    Sprinkle tuna steaks on both sides with salt, then sprinkle with coarsely cracked black pepper, pressing gently to adhere. Heat sesame oil in large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add tuna steaks and sear until brown outside and just opaque in center, about 3 minutes per side. Using tongs, transfer tuna steaks to platter. Tent platter loosely with foil to keep tuna steaks warm. Add soy sauce, then Sherry to same skillet. Reduce heat and simmer until mixture is slightly reduced, scraping up any browned bits, about 1 minute. Spoon sauce over tuna steaks. Sprinkle with chives or green onion tops.

    You can also find it online at Epicurious

    This will be my entry for Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum.